Best Exercises to Improve Agility & Why Clients Need Them

Best Exercises to Improve Agility & Why Clients Need Them

Reading Time: 4 minutes 57 seconds

By: ISSA

Date: 2019-09-27T00:00:00-04:00


Your serious athlete clients probably know all about agility and are already training for it, but the rest of your clients may not be familiar with this type of training.

Agility helps athletes move and react more quickly, which leads to better performance and fewer injuries. For amateurs or non-athletes, agility is still important. Help your clients improve this important fitness factor with some fun, quick workouts once or twice a week.

What is Agility?

If dogs running through a course—leaping over hurdles and weaving through sticks—is what comes to mind when you hear the term agility, you're not far off track. Those talented dogs are agile, shifting direction quickly to get over and through each obstacle.

Agility is the ability to move and change direction quickly.

In more scientific and detailed terms, someone who is agile can accelerate rapidly in one direction, quickly slow down, and change direction and reposition their body mass in an instant in order to accelerate quickly in a new direction.

Think of some of the best athletes in games like basketball and hockey. They can duck and weave, move quickly between other players, and carry the ball or puck with them. That's agility.

But agility is not just sports. Anyone can be agile in their daily lives. For instance, if walking down a busy street you have to quickly jump out of the way of an oncoming cyclist, you've demonstrated agility. And if you can do that without injuring yourself, all the better.

Why Your Clients Need Exercises to Improve Agility

Agility is important in most sports. If you aren't agile, you won't be able to get out of the way of that big linebacker coming for you as you carry the football down the field or sail over a hurdle on the track.

But agility isn't just for athletes. There are several important reasons for you to encourage your clients at all levels to improve agility.

Agility Training Improves Athletic Performance

Yes, the number one reason most people use agility exercises is to improve athletic performance. Pros train for agility, but even your amateur athletes can get better at their pick-up games if you help them get more agile.

Build Strength and Burn Calories

Agility exercises recruit muscles you don't always use. This helps build more muscle strength overall, which is important for getting muscle gains and burning more calories every day.

Recruiting more muscles in these exercises also makes the body burn more calories during the workout. A lot of agility training is similar to interval training, which is also an important exercise strategy for burning more calories.

Reduce or Prevent Injuries

Agility training can help reduce the risk of injuries in multiple ways:

  • Doing the same kinds of workouts and movements over and over can lead to fatigue and repetitive stress injuries. Agility training uses a greater variety of movements.

  • Practicing agility can also prevent injuries a client may sustain from trying to move suddenly or react quickly, for instance in a game of soccer with friends. If they are not prepared, their joints and muscles aren't ready to take on those forces, which can result in an injury.

  • Agility training particularly stretches and strengthens connective tissues in the knees and other joints to help reduce injuries from everyday and athletic activities.

Don't forget the warmup. Try these mobility training pre-workouts to jump-start your client's agility session.

Exercises to Improve Agility Are Fun

Introducing new exercises to your clients' routines is always a good idea to prevent boredom. Agility training exercises can be a lot of fun. Think of those dogs running obstacle courses—it's like playing while working out.

Try These Moves to Improve Your Agility

So what does an agility workout look like? There are several things you can do with your clients to build agility. Choose some of these training exercises to develop a few different workouts you can use with them once or twice a week:

High-Knee Tires

This is a classic football agility drill. With tires lined up in two staggered rows, you simply run through them putting one foot in the middle of each tire. Knees should be up high. Start slowly or use an agility ladder with clients new to agility, as a trip and fall can be painful.

Ladder Drills

This is an agility routine that utilizes lateral movements. Your clients are probably used to forward and backward movements in workouts but may be lacking in lateral agility. With an agility ladder flat on the ground, side-step from one end of it to the other, crossing each foot and leg over the other. Depending on the client, they may need to take agility ladder exercises slowly at first. Over time, they'll build agility and pick up the speed to make these drills more challenging.

Sprint Drills

Take the workout outdoors for more space and use this drill for both agility and HIIT. Have your client sprint ten yards or so in one direction, quickly turn right and sprint ten yards, turn forward again to sprint, and so on. Recover between drills. To progress with sprint drills, create new patterns and add in back-pedaling, slowly at first for safety, then building up speed.

Check out this ISSA blog post to find out other fun ways to take the workout to the great outdoors for a change of pace.

Dot Drills

This is a great agility exercise for developing ankle and knee strength. Tape Xs on the floor in the pattern you see on the five-dot side of dice. Have your client jump with both feet from one X to another in specific patterns. Progress to jumping with just one leg at a time.

Plyometric Hurdles

Using low hurdles in an agility workout allows you to also add in plyometrics for power development. This is a more advanced drill, so start clients out slowly and make sure they have progressed enough to do this safely.

Set up agility hurdles spaced about two feet apart. Have your clients jump over a hurdle, then jumping quickly over the next as soon as their feet hit the ground. This should be quick, with powerful, high jumps. Progress the drill by using one foot at a time and increasing the space between hurdles.

Tuck Jumps

This is another plyometric move that is best for your fittest clients. It can also serve as part of a HIIT workout because it will get the heart rate up fast. A tuck jump is simply a high jump into the air, tucking the knees up toward the chin. It's challenging. Have your clients complete several repetitions, jumping back up without hesitation as soon as their feet touch the ground again.

Agility is for Everyone

A series of these exercises progressed safely will get your clients more agile in no time. While agility is usually considered important for serious athletes, it's good for everyone. Help your clients enjoy greater flexibility, better athletic performance, more strength, and fewer injuries with these fun agility drills and workouts.

Ready to increase your knowledge as a personal trainer? Add a Strength and Conditioning credential from the ISSA so you can offer your clients more specific advice and guidance to improve strength, speed, agility, and coordination for regular clients and athletes.

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